Facebook has launched Podcasts and Live Audio Rooms — its Clubhouse rival — as they start introducing new audio features and creation tools on the platform.
Live audio rooms are available to public figures and selected Facebook Groups in USA. Currently, people can only create Live Audio Rooms using the Facebook app for iOS.
Facebook is also rolling out select podcasts to listeners in USA.
Live Audio Rooms allow donations and monetisation
Public figures can invite friends, followers and other verified public figures or listeners in the room to speak during or before the conversation has started. Live audio rooms currently support up to 50 speakers and unlimited listeners.
Groups admins can control who can create live audio rooms — moderators, group members or other admins. Rooms created by public groups will be available to all, but only members can listen to live audio rooms created by private groups.
Speakers and listeners can support causes through donations to non-profits or fundraisers during live audio room streams.
Listeners can also support hosts by sending them Stars (in-app currency) that will also put them in a highlighted section called the ‘front row’, making them more visible to the host. Star packs can be purchased during the conversation.
While live audio rooms can only be created on the iOS app, people on Android can join them via news feed or notifications. Reminders are also available.
People will be notified if their friends and followers join the same live audio room. Live captions and reactions are available too. People can also request to join the conversation using the ‘raise a hand’ feature.
Facebook has partnered with several public figures to host live audio rooms, including Tokimonsta, Russell Wilson, Rosa Clemente, Omereloff and Amanda Nguyen,
Other public figures expected to join the bandwagon include D Smoke, Kehlani, Reggie Watts, and Lisa Morales Duke, to Dr Jess, Bobby Berk, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Joe Budden, and DeRay Mckesson.
Facebook Groups like Dance Accepts Everyone, Vegan Soul Food, Meditation Matters, Pow Wow Nation, Octonation and Space Hipsters will also be hosting live audio rooms.
A limited selection of podcasts come to Facebook
People can access a select range of podcasts via a mini player or full-screen player while browsing Facebook. The playback will continue even with the screen turned off. People can react, comment, bookmark and share these podcasts within the app.
The initial lineup of podcasts includes Joe Budden of The Joe Budden Podcast; Jess Hilarious of Carefully Reckless from The Black Effect Podcast Network, and iHeartRadio; Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin, and Jac Vanek of the LadyGang; and Nicaila Matthews Okome of Side Hustle Pro. More are expected to roll out in the coming weeks.
More features such as live captions and creations of short clips of a podcast are coming to podcasts on Facebook in the next few months.
Facebook will bring Soundbites, audio creation tools later this year
The social media giant had announced its plans to bring new audio tools in April. While Live Audio Rooms and Podcasts have been rolled out, another short-form audio clips tool called Soundbites is scheduled to launch later this year.
“We are working with creators who will use our audio tools to further develop and launch Soundbites — short-form, creative audio clips. We are excited to partner with this community to refine the Soundbites experience before it launches,” Fidji Simo, Head of Facebook App, announced.
Moving forward, Facebook will also be working on expanding its line of audio products with “central listening destination and background audio listening for videos.
Earlier this year, Facebook announced that they’re working on a set of audio creation tools with features like speech-to-text and voice morphing. These will be available directly within the Facebook app.
The company also said they’re working on bringing monetisation opportunities to creators.
Facebook plans to allow live audio room hosts to charge a one-time or recurring subscription to access the streams. They will also be setting up an ‘audio creator fund’ to support emerging Soundbites creators.